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Florida Black Racer

Florida Black Racer

04.29.2006 - Ah, the Southern Black Racer, (Coluber constrictor priapus), the most common snake that I deal with here in Orlando Florida. I estimate that about 40% of all snake calls that I get are due to this one species of snake alone. They are simply very capable snakes, good at surviving, and they can adapt to a wide variety of habitats. Whereas other snakes inhabit more specific ecological niches, or simply need just the right protection, Black Racers do fine in a variety of habitats, including suburban and urban.  One often has to travel outside of developed Orlando to find the rarer snakes, but the Black Racer lives even in downtown.  Plus, it's very active and is a daytime snake, so one can understand, why out of the 30 or so species that I've caught, this one dominates in numbers.

This snake is strong and fast!  It's an excellent climber.  Thus, it's often difficult to capture.  With most species of snake, if I see it, I get it in the bag.  Not always so with the Black Racer.  At first, I missed many of them.  Now that I'm more of a seasoned pro I get nearly all of them, but if I arrive and this snake is lying on a thick hedge or other heavy vegetation, there's a chance I won't get it.  They have excellent vision, and if my first approach isn't just right, and my first strike perfect, off it goes, and it could be gone.  It can kind of dart, in any direction, lickety split.  Half of the time I grab this snake by hand and then ward off the bites, but much of the time I "pin" the snake down with my snake hook.  I do not injure it, but pinning is a higher percentage catch than an attempt to grab with tongs or pick up with a hook, as both moves require perfect precision.

Black Racers are constrictors, and they eat almost anything they can catch and swallow.  The snake in the above photo has caught a piece of lint in its mouth. They are black with gray bellies and a white chin.  The grow a little above five feet, and most of the ones I catch are in the 3-4 foot range. It pretty much goes May mating, June eggs, September hatching.

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